2016 budget realistic with emphasis on independent revenue sources: Saraki

Posted by News Express | 3 February 2016 | 3,556 times

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President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, has assured Nigerians that the 2016 budget proposal submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari will be realistic if emphasis is placed on non-oil and independent revenue-generating sources.

Dr Saraki, who stated this while fielding questions from Senate Correspondents at the National Assembly complex, noted: “Though the 2016 budget proposal is ambitious but it can be achieved, if all that is necessary to make it work is put in place.”

Asked if the 2016 budget is implementable given the dwindling price of crude oil at the international market, he said: “I think this is one of the reasons why we are having the MDAs (ministries, departments and agencies) defend their proposals before the committees; to be able to test some of the scenarios and some of the assumptions, particularly on the revenue side. If you look at the revenue, out of about N3.8 trillion, N3 trillion is coming from non-oil and independent revenue. The success of the budget, in my own view, is less on the benchmark. It is more on those two items – non-oil revenue and independent revenue – and that is why we directed our committee on finance and other relevant committees to really scrutinise the revenue side.

“Even the Senate leadership intends to also engage with the ministries as well to really check those two lines, because that is really where the questions come on: whether it is achievable. Before we put our signature to it, we need to be sure that those funds are there.”

The Senate President noted: “I believe they are ambitious, but it is a good sign, because, it begins to make us less dependent on oil. If N830 billion is coming from oil revenue, and it is only 23 per cent. So, even if the price of oil goes down or up, we are not really so much vulnerable, like the time oil revenue was accounting for 70 per cent of our revenue. From that point of view, I believe that once we can do that, it is achievable.”

He advised the executive to put a proper plan in place for implementing the budget now that the National Assembly is working to pass it in record time. He assured that the National Assembly would soon amend the Public Procurement Act, to facilitate quick implementation of the budget.

"But also talking about being achievable or implementable, already, some of the things we are going to look at, and which we are going to advise the executive on, is that while we are working on the budget now, they too should also start making a plan on how to implement the budget because what tends to happen is that even after we have passed a budget, the administration or its bureaucracy sometimes makes the budget difficult to be realised,” Saraki averred, adding:

“And two areas: one is looking at the procurement process, and it is very likely that we will need to come out with an amendment bill as regards certain areas of the procurement law. That is something that we are likely to come out with very soon. People are looking at that now to see again how we can assist the executive to see that the budget is implementable.”

Next, he stressed the need for transparency and openness in the National Assembly budget, saying: “I think I have kept on repeating this many times. If you remember, even during the time the leadership was constituted, one of the issues that came forward was that we will have an open and transparent 8th Senate. And I still want to be held to that.

“Also during this process, of course, National Assembly budget too will also be debated and by the time the final document is out, I can assure you that we are going to move away from the time of one-line item for the National Assembly to a National Assembly where there will be a breakdown, according to different sections of the institution.”

In another development, Saraki, while commissioning the newly-upgraded and refurbished Senate Press Centre at the National Assembly, Abuja, yesterday, said that the 8th Senate is poised to leave behind a good legacy in all aspects of the National Assembly.

He noted that the upgraded Press Centre “signifies a commitment that we are ensuring that in every aspect, we are poised to do things differently. We will try and improve on what we met and I hope by the time we finish our tenure, we would have left the Senate better than we met it.”

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, observed that the Press Centre was refurbished to create a befitting work environment for journalists reporting the activities of the Senate.

His words: “We have been able to do this with your magnanimous support. We have turned it around so that when we come here to speak to Nigerians about the Senate, let Nigerians see that the environment we are doing it is befitting of that institution.”

In his response, Vice-Chairman of the Senate Press Corps, Shagari Sumbo, thanked the leadership of the Senate for improving on the Senate Press Centre and making it more conducive for the correspondents to carry out their assignments.

Among items in the refurbished centre are new chairs, tables, Plasma TV sets, and few others that could facilitate communication for the correspondents.

•Photo shows Senate President Saraki.

Source: News Express

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